CREATED Mar 28, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Pima County leaders are mulling over a list of options to come up with cash to patch potholes and fix miles of run-down roads.
On Monday, 9 On Your Side reported county staff were exploring ways to put more money towards roads--not inside cities or towns--that are in poor condition. Wednesday, the county administrator handed those options to county supervisors and to 9 On Your Side.
The county’s list began with 18 ideas to scrounge up cash to smooth bumpy, run-down roads.
“When you're looking at solving a problem, you need to look at every available option,” county administrator Chuck Huckelberry said. “The least favorable is raising taxes, in particular, either property taxes or creating a new sales tax. We know that it's possible to do that because it's allowed by state law. Is it practical? The answer's no.”
Huckelberry narrowed the options down to five, which he is recommending the county board vote to accept at its upcoming meeting, April 10.
One option, for example, would essentially take whatever money's left in this year's road budget and combine it with next year's now to produce $5 million.
“That's significant in and of itself because, in the previous year, we only invested $800,000 so we're increasing our normal investment fivefold,” he said. That money would be used to tackle 17 major projects like a stretch of Craycroft north of Sunrise, Huckelberry’s reported stated.
The plan could also free up enough money to accelerate neighborhood road repairs in places like Heatherwood Hills and Northridge Estates, north of Tucson, the reported stated. Those projects were originally slated for down the road.
Another Huckelberry recommendation: take money from departments like juvenile court and give it to the transportation department. He wrote there'd be "no adverse impact on the court."
Finally, the board could vote to take money from the general fund. That's an option Huckelberry would rather avoid. “To continue to rely on taking money out of a rainy day fund to fill potholes is very poor public policy in the long term,” he said.
In total, Huckelberry said his recommendations could produce a possible $38 million, meaning miles of smoother driving in the county.
There is also some immediate good news for drivers: the county's given the green light for road crews to work overtime to eliminate the pothole patching backlog.